Monday, July 3, 2017

In silence and in reverence, pray that peace be with us.



How priceless is Your love, O God! Your people take refuge under the shadow of Your wings. They feast upon the abundance of Your house; You give them drink from the river of Your delights. For with You is the well of life, and in Your light we see light. Psalm 36:7–9

Lord God, time and again You provide for us with Your near, ready and sure love. Give us eyes to recognize that all goodness and joy are from Your hand, that we may praise You with our lives, forever and ever. Amen.

Refuge. Erbil is a refuge, as hundreds of thousands of people from Mosel pack into tent villages settled under the mottled golden skies of Northern Iraq.

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Internally Displaced People is another term I also hear a lot these days.  “After the fall of Mosul, many Christians headed to Ankawa, the  "Assyrian Quarter" of Erbil. It is located five miles north-north-west of downtown Erbil, just outside the ring road that is Erbil's city limits, Ankawa is also considered to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, its population is estimated to be twenty thousand, the majority of people who live in Ankawa belong and follow the teachings of the Chaldean Catholic churches.(Wikipedia)" The IDPs are provided with personal needs by the church and NGOs such as MCC including food, housing, education, crop and water development, trauma care and relocation support as many of them prepare to either return home or try to apply for asylum.

This afternoon we had our introduction to the country’s history, politics, and religion. Iraq is a country of war after war, a continual battlefield of instability, and we live among a minority group that has been specifically targeted on many fronts and has suffered many injustices. And the Christians are the minority within this Kurdish minority. Atrocities committed by ISIS terrorists include slavery, beheadings, crucifixions, child murders, rape of women and girls, torture, and forced conversions. We ended on the somber note that 100% of our students, the staff at the school, have suffered trauma, and we considered how this affects our work, as it bubbles up to the surface, or rather sometimes torpedoes up to the surface at the most unpredictable times.

The Psalmist David was no slacker. He too knew trauma, battlefields, instability, and injustice. And yet he was able to sing of precious love, abundance, deep refreshing wells of water, and in His light we see light.

Last night we went to mass at a Chaldean Catholic church. The mass was mostly chanted in melodious Aramaic while large censors swirled incense upward, representing the prayerful worship of the faithful. The two organs and balcony choir filled the soaring space with rich song. There was an intensity of purpose that is sometimes lacking in the red velvet padding of life in the United States, as the young man with the sharp, very precise haircut next to me fingered the cross tightly bound around his wrist while he knelt, face pressed against the polished tile floor.

LORD God, give me ears to hear, that I may be quick to listen, open to understanding and slow to speak,

LORD God, give us eyes to recognize that all goodness and joy are from Your hand, that we may praise You with our lives.

May I praise You with my life.